Matthews Calls Clinton Press Shop "Lousy," "Kneecappers"

08/05/2008 03:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

Chris Matthews fired a salvo at the Clinton campaign this morning after both he and his MSNBC colleague were privately and publicly rebuked for recent comments deemed misogynistic or inappropriate.

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe, the Hardball host went off on the Clinton press shop, calling them "knee cappers" who were "lousy" and delve in the business of "intimidation."

"What she has to do is get rid of the kneecapers that work for her, these press people whose main job seems to be punishing Obama or going after the press, to building a positive case for her," said Matthews. "Her campaign slogan right now is don't get your hopes up. That won't work in America. You can't diminish Obama and hope that you will rise from the ashes."

Asked why he believed Clinton had gone negative, Matthews again struck an antagonistic chord about the campaign's media operation.

"The kneecapping hasn't worked. Her press relations are lousy," he said. "If all you do is intimidate and punish and claim you'll get even relentlessly, people of all kinds of politicians -- and in all fairness, the press -- human reaction to intimidation is screw you. That's the human reaction. Don't tell me what to say, and that has been their whole policy. We're going to win this thing. Get out of the way."

Animosity between the Clinton campaign and MSNBC has been intense and well documented. Last week, for the first time, it bubbled to the surface, when the Clintons pressed for correspondent David Shuster to be suspended (and, perhaps, fired) for claiming that they had "pimped out" Chelsea Clinton to help secure the support of super delegates. Schuster offered an on-air apology and has since been suspended by the network.

Matthews, himself, was long thought to be at the center of the Clintons' ire, for critical coverage and remarks that attributed the senator's success to her husband's infidelities. And indeed, yesterday, Talking Points Memo's Greg Sargent reported that "Hillary's advisers" have "repeatedly taken their grievance with Matthews directly to the network."